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Esterbrook Nibs - What's The Difference Between Them All?


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#21 tmenyc

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 12:33

Yes, manifold nibs are stiff and sharp, to get through multiple copies, carbon copies to be exact.  I tried one, far far far too fine for me.  

 

Tim


Edited by tmenyc, 19 July 2013 - 12:33.


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#22 pajaro

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 14:27

All the manifold nibs I have used are fine for the nominal size, M being fine to medium and F being XF to fine, and they generally seem dry, with some being really stingy with ink.  In today's world they are good for writing on forms printed on copy paper, because they don't bleed through.  If you like wet nibs that are a bit soft, these probably won't be your cup of tea.  I might sometimes use a 9460, but not likely a 9668 ever again, so I liked the manifold nibs.  My dream pen has been a dry Parker 51 fine. 

 

There is a range of qualities in Esterbrook, more than modern makes.  The people who bought Estie back in the day probably weren't potential customers of nibmeisters, so Esterbrook offered a wide range of nibs at affordable prices.  Back in the day the Estie customers probably weren't generally well-heeled.


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#23 publishing guy

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 17:17

I appreciate Ron's wonderful explanation. That is pretty much as I understand it. But it makes the point -- again -- that most of us will never in our life wear out a nib. Just as most of us aren't likely to wear out another phonograph needle. Back then, sure.  So ... if a #2668 or #1555  writes sweet, I've got no fear of it. I could buy a trunkload of Esties for what I've spent  trying to improve the writing experience on a couple of pricey newer pens that write with the beauty and comfort of pocket knives.


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#24 Ron Z

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 21:00

My dream pen has been a dry Parker 51 fine.

 

I can make that happen for you..... :D

 

I could buy a trunkload of Esties for what I've spent  trying to improve the writing experience on a couple of pricey newer pens that write with the beauty and comfort of pocket knives.

 

You have encountered what I call ILOPP  (eye-lopp)  i.e. the Inverse Law of Pen Performance.  The more you pay for a pen, the better the chances are that you won't be satisfied with the way it writes.   Or, some cheap pens write very well, thank you!


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#25 LWJ2

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 01:41

Esterbrook's "manifold" nibs are designed for making carbons. I've used both the manifold (9461) and the EF (posting) nibs, the EF posting (9550) is a tad finer line; both are pretty rigid.

 

The medium manifold (9650) is much stiffer than the medium general writing (9668) and the flexible medium (9788) has a fair bit of flex. The Pittman nib (9128) is a very nice flexible extra-fine nib originally developed for the Pittman shorthand system. The Gregg nib (9555) is a firm fine nib designed for the Gregg shorthand system (and was officially endorsed by Gregg).

 

All write a decent line width, the fine and EF nibs should be checked carefully for nib alignment, none of them like cheap paper (i.e., standard 20# bond) but seem to respond fairly well to Hammermill's 28#. If I can discover a source of 24# or 28# rag paper, I'll give that a try and post the results.



#26 inkstainedruth

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 02:39

Esterbrook's "manifold" nibs are designed for making carbons. I've used both the manifold (9461) and the EF (posting) nibs, the EF posting (9550) is a tad finer line; both are pretty rigid.

 

The medium manifold (9650) is much stiffer than the medium general writing (9668) and the flexible medium (9788) has a fair bit of flex. The Pittman nib (9128) is a very nice flexible extra-fine nib originally developed for the Pittman shorthand system. The Gregg nib (9555) is a firm fine nib designed for the Gregg shorthand system (and was officially endorsed by Gregg).

 

All write a decent line width, the fine and EF nibs should be checked carefully for nib alignment, none of them like cheap paper (i.e., standard 20# bond) but seem to respond fairly well to Hammermill's 28#. If I can discover a source of 24# or 28# rag paper, I'll give that a try and post the results.

Thanks for the additional information.  I have a 1555 Gregg nib that seems pretty good (even with a folded over nib end, it wrote well with the ink in the pen that was reconstituted when I tried to flush the pen); and a 9128 in less than ideal condition (I've taken jewelry-making pliers to it in an attempt to straighten it out, and it wrote somewhat okay when I dip-tested it).  But I didn't know that the 9128 was also a type of nib for doing shorthand (even Esterbrook's own nib charts of which I've seen (don't mention it as such..)

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#27 pajaro

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 03:08

Esterbrook's "manifold" nibs are designed for making carbons. I've used both the manifold (9461) and the EF (posting) nibs, the EF posting (9550) is a tad finer line; both are pretty rigid.

 

The medium manifold (9650) is much stiffer than the medium general writing (9668) and the flexible medium (9788) has a fair bit of flex. The Pittman nib (9128) is a very nice flexible extra-fine nib originally developed for the Pittman shorthand system. The Gregg nib (9555) is a firm fine nib designed for the Gregg shorthand system (and was officially endorsed by Gregg).

 

All write a decent line width, the fine and EF nibs should be checked carefully for nib alignment, none of them like cheap paper (i.e., standard 20# bond) but seem to respond fairly well to Hammermill's 28#. If I can discover a source of 24# or 28# rag paper, I'll give that a try and post the results.

I'm sorry, but I think you have the numbers mixed up.  Not that that is important, but the medium manifold is 9460.  I have several of these 9460 nibs, and I find that they all write a tad finer than the 9668 and drier as well.  This made them perfect for writing on the nominal 20 pound laser printer paper used at work to print checklists.  The fountain pen ink stands out better than ballpoint, and the 9460, 9550 and 9555 firm extra fine nibs, 9461 manifold fine and 9556 firm extra fine nibs all work pretty well on this low priced paper, not bleeding through.  The checklists are printed on both sides, squeezing a nickel 'till it screams.

 

Source of my info:

http://www.esterbrook.net/nibs.shtml

 

I am not trying to nitpick you.  In fact I had to consult that web page, because the nib numbers seem to resolve themselves into a jumble for me.  In a carbonless workplace all these nibs are pretty good on cheap laser printer paper.  I think the 9668 and 9788 nibs would be best on papers you suggested, which are nice papers.  I like the stingier, drier and finer nibs for my work, and I use them with a very light touch, not bearing down.  I would suppose, though, that if you were to bear down on these rigid nibs, you might spread the tines enough to make them better for heavier papers like 28# or 30#. 

 

As you wrote, checking the nibs for alignment is well advised.  Additionally, I find that I often had to both align and smooth NOS Esterbrook nibs of any size before use.  Perhaps the passage of so many years since manufacture has caused some kind of deterioration in the tipping, making them a bit rough. 

 

Happy writing.


"Don't hurry, don't worry. It's better to be late at the Golden Gate than to arrive in Hell on time."
--Sign in a bar and grill, Ormond Beach, Florida, 1960.

 

They took the blue from the skies and the pretty girls' eyes and a touch of Old Glory too . . .


#28 Runnin_Ute

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 03:23

Still getting used to my 9550 EF posting nib, as I have only had for a few days.


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#29 vnam43

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 18:02

Think of wine - grape, country, type, colour, vintage, producers.....
 
1XXX & 2XXX - Fairly good, less expensive wine. Some have the makings of a very good wine. However, if not from a reputable source it may only be vinegar.
 
3XXX - Excelent wine indeed - some say even rare and distintive. In a class of its own. A Brut is available this class.
 
8XXX - Another excelent wine - less rare. A Bubbly is also available.
 
9XXX - A very good wine- also less rare.
 
Within each of the last three classes a good year may come along, but it will certainly be more expensive. Not being a snob - I could have chosen beer, foods, clothing, books for comparison. I think it is a taster's (buyer's) choice. I have and like: 1461 Rigid Manifold Fine; 2556 Firm Fine; 2668 General Medium. I may also have at least one of these that I made into a cursive and works very well. I've not been introduced to the finer wines - yet!

 

Ciao.........



#30 taimdala

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Posted 19 April 2019 - 17:06

 

I can make that happen for you..... :D

 

 

 

 

You have encountered what I call ILOPP  (eye-lopp)  i.e. the Inverse Law of Pen Performance.  The more you pay for a pen, the better the chances are that you won't be satisfied with the way it writes.   Or, some cheap pens write very well, thank you!

 

Oh yes!

I have run head-on into ILOPP: After spending money on Duraflex and Duragraphs and several other pricier pens, I've found my less expensive Lamy, TWSBI, Preppy, and Procyon pens suit me better. This means that, with Lamy as the sole exception, the pens that suit me best (so far) have been the Taiwanese TWSBI and the Japanese Pilots and Platinum models.

Which figures: the two make and model cars that suited me best were a 1975 Volkswagon Rabbit and multiple Hondas/Acuras.

Hmmm ... coincidence?

THAT SAID, I've been thinking fairly hard about giving the Esterbrook (the vintage models, rather than the revival) a try.

 

Thing is, should I?

I, too, am tempted to give it a go BECAUSE of all the nib options available. There are a lot of NOS nibs available on eBay and other websites and I am itching to get a reliable flex-ish nib in a fountain pen. Short of MacGuyvering a dip pen nib onto a fountain pen feed, the vintage Esterbrooks I've seen on Anderson Pens or eBay are about what I can afford.

I'm just a little gun-shy about pulling the trigger.

Does anyone here have any advice on this, beyond the excellent information already posted here?



#31 AL01

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Posted 19 April 2019 - 20:09

 The Manifold/Rigid nibs are STIFF.

 

 The Esterbrook I use has a 9460 nib, and the thing is the stiffest nib I have ever used in my  life. It's stiffer than a Parker 51 or any Sheaffer nib. It's crazy stiff.

 

 BUT, the 9-series nibs write well. And just like Mr.Zorn wrote previously, my 1555 Gregg nib worked great, till one day the tipping literally fell off the tines!

 

 I'd recommend a 9-series nib, but the other nibs can write well. Just remember, if you buy an NOS nib from a non fountain pen person, you may have to give it a simple adjustment or two in order for it to write at its greatest potential.

 

(My nib needed a cleaning, a tine alignment, and a little bit of widening. That's it, which is not bad for a nib that sat in a cute little box for AT LEAST 50 years.)

 I



#32 Ron Z

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Posted 19 April 2019 - 20:29

I've been thinking fairly hard about giving the Esterbrook (the vintage models, rather than the revival) a try.  Thing is, should I?

 

Yes.  An emphatic yes!  IMO everyone needs at least one of the original Esterbrooks in their collection.

 

Esterbrooks are a classic, iconic pen.  They're still relatively inexpensive, and were well made, comfortable to hold pens with a wide range of  quality nibs (9000 series) to chose from.  The trim is not plated brass, but stainless, which doesn't brass.  I have and have had a bunch of more expensive pens, but there's an Esterbrook in my pocket right now, an Esterbrook display case full of them on a shelf across the room from me, and maybe a dozen with tweaked nibs that I'm not going to sell any time soon.


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#33 corgicoupe

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Posted 19 April 2019 - 21:22

Listen to Ron, taimdala. I have about a dozen of the J models, including a couple of desk pens. I agree with the others that the 9xxx nibs are to be preferred, but I have a 2668 that is perhaps the smoothest nib I have. I acquired this in a desk pen when I was a grad student back in 1964, but the pen recently graduated to a 9668 that is equally smooth. However, I prefer a finer nib and have found the 9314-F and 9314-M much to my liking. The one outlier is a 1555 Gregg in a desk pen that is at hand by my computer for taking notes. It always writes, even if it hasn't been used for days, and it produces a nice flow of ink. I've read that this is by design because a stenographer could not depend on a pen that had hard starts or skipped or failed on an upstroke. Check with Gary of MidnightPens, who is a member here and clearly states that he will attempt to match a pen with your nib of choice.

 

EDIT...Anderson pens currently has a bunch of vintage Esterbrooks for sale. You might be able to cajole Brian into swapping the nib or your choice into the pen of your choice.


Edited by corgicoupe, 19 April 2019 - 21:32.

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#34 AAAndrew

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Posted 29 April 2019 - 20:32

And just for a bit of background on the Manifold questions...

 

Manifold was the brand name for one of the earliest and most successful makers of carbon paper.  We're talking 19th-century. 

 

Dip pen makers then began making dip pens called "Manifold Pens" for use with carbon paper. These pen nibs had to be both very stiff, so you could exert the needed pressure, as well as extra smooth. They tended to be "medium" (for a dip pen) because the very small "fine" pens tended to pierce paper when pressed. (dip pens are much finer than their fountain pen successors). Every major steel dip pen maker made a "Manifold" model. They're all marked "Manifold" and almost all have a small, round pierce (hole) as they don't need the hole to give it any more spring or flex, so the least amount needed to keep the slit from splitting the steel at the top was all that they put in. 

 

So, for nib makers, "Manifold" means very stiff and smooth for writing with carbon paper. 

 

I've even seem to remember references to Sheaffer and Parker "Manifold" nibs. 



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#35 pajaro

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Posted 29 April 2019 - 22:52

 

Oh yes!

I have run head-on into ILOPP: After spending money on Duraflex and Duragraphs and several other pricier pens, I've found my less expensive Lamy, TWSBI, Preppy, and Procyon pens suit me better. This means that, with Lamy as the sole exception, the pens that suit me best (so far) have been the Taiwanese TWSBI and the Japanese Pilots and Platinum models.

Which figures: the two make and model cars that suited me best were a 1975 Volkswagon Rabbit and multiple Hondas/Acuras.

Hmmm ... coincidence?

THAT SAID, I've been thinking fairly hard about giving the Esterbrook (the vintage models, rather than the revival) a try.

 

Thing is, should I?

I, too, am tempted to give it a go BECAUSE of all the nib options available. There are a lot of NOS nibs available on eBay and other websites and I am itching to get a reliable flex-ish nib in a fountain pen. Short of MacGuyvering a dip pen nib onto a fountain pen feed, the vintage Esterbrooks I've seen on Anderson Pens or eBay are about what I can afford.

I'm just a little gun-shy about pulling the trigger.

Does anyone here have any advice on this, beyond the excellent information already posted here?

 

What Esterbrook vintage pens did for me was to open up a world of nibs beyond fine and medium.  The nibs used to be, around 2012 and 2013, fairly inexpensive, so I looked at the nib chart and obtained the ones I could, including obliques and italics.  The experience proved very valuable.  Many of the Esterbrooks are interesting, some for beautiful colors, some for function.  For example, the Safari pump fillers work like Sheaffer's Touchdown fillers:  unscrew and draw back the blind cap and, with the pen in the ink, push in the blind cap all the way.


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#36 Ron Z

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Posted 30 April 2019 - 00:43

I suspect that we're going to see a change in thinking, from Esterbrooks being "just" Esterbrooks and considered to be almost disposable, to a recognition of the quality pen that they are.  I don't pass them up when I find them in decent condition at reasonable prices.


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#37 pajaro

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Posted 30 April 2019 - 17:44

i suspect that we're going to see a change in thinking, from Esterbrooks being "just" Esterbrooks and considered to be almost disposable, to a recognition of the quality pen that they are.  I don't pass them up when I find them in decent condition at reasonable prices.

 

Prices are going up.  I no longer see NOS Esterbrooks for $18.  I bought a few at that price.  Restorer/sellers want a chunk of change for Esterbrooks now.  A thirty dollar offering you don't see much now.  Especially for nibs like 9284.  You know who you are.  


"Don't hurry, don't worry. It's better to be late at the Golden Gate than to arrive in Hell on time."
--Sign in a bar and grill, Ormond Beach, Florida, 1960.

 

They took the blue from the skies and the pretty girls' eyes and a touch of Old Glory too . . .


#38 inkstainedruth

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Posted 01 May 2019 - 00:33

Well, I'll admit that I paid $35 US for a black LJ with a 9284 nib, a few years ago at OPS (which was down from $40 because it was Sunday morning...).

But yeah, I paid $10-$20 for a bunch of my Esties -- even one with 9xxx nibs, and only four or five years ago.

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#39 pajaro

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Posted 01 May 2019 - 17:13

You got lucky, and you are a careful buyer.  Why spend what isn't necessary?  Just recently I saw retail sellers asking much higher prices for ordinary Esterbrooks with common nibs.  I thought it was kind of scandalous.


Edited by pajaro, 01 May 2019 - 17:14.

"Don't hurry, don't worry. It's better to be late at the Golden Gate than to arrive in Hell on time."
--Sign in a bar and grill, Ormond Beach, Florida, 1960.

 

They took the blue from the skies and the pretty girls' eyes and a touch of Old Glory too . . .


#40 BaronWulfraed

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Posted 01 May 2019 - 17:36

I'm beginning to feel like I robbed a local antique store last fall... Getting an LJ for $20 (+$1.20 tax).

 

Sure, it had a mundane 2668 nib on it (I've swapped that out with a 9-series; I had a few nibs from when I'd bought a couple of Dip-Less sets via eBay). I'd expected the pen to be my first foray into resaccing, but a quick test with water showed the sac was usable (and I flushed a lot of blackish ink). Kept it in rotation for three or four months with Vert Empire.








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